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Greetings from Toronto

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Greetings from Toronto

Post  Mr. Haelscheir on Mon Sep 04, 2017 11:42 pm

Greetings fellows,

I have joined this forum in pursuit of the most authentic HITS experience in Scourge of War: Waterloo, as well as to share my ideas pertaining to a C++ Napoleonic tactical AI framework I am working on. My interest in the Kriegsspiel style of wargaming shall have originated from my "farces" with the Total War series, playing Shogun 2 and NTW, as well as Ultimate General: Gettysburg. Surprisingly, I first began drafting my ideas on the day of the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo without having known of it. Some reading into Napoleonic warfare shall have led me to understand the command hierarchy and in some parts, scale that these games lacked, leading me initially in the direction of NTW modding. I thought I might use "battle scripts" to facilitate a smarter AI rather than playing with data tables and hoping for a miracle, but this proved unfeasible whereby I was led to SOWWL.

I can run the game on the highest settings with no issues although as I have heard, units have their sprite limit set to around 200. So far, I have been experimenting with HITS gameplay and brigade level couriers, mostly practicing with the first French brigade level scenario. Typically, manual placement of troops through right clicking can be finicky due to the very shallow viewpoint, and any form of accurate positioning via courier can be quite difficult; I typically work with "[battalion 1] move to the [direction] flank of [battalion 2]" commands and the other "relative" placement commands. I don't know if the resultant unit placement or effective "battalion width" changes with the selected sprite ratio. I'd like that the physical number of men limit how many battalions I can pit side by side along a certain front. I also don't know how sprite ratio affects the game's collision model for damage resolution.

I could try having my troops use my commander as their reference, but the game's current WASD scheme and "invalid movement positions" greatly compromise my commander's HITS mobility. I've tried the Expanded Toolbar which does offer some help, but the game keeps crashing at random times with it enabled. I am unsure if it has to do with the recent patch. I have the game alongside the Quatre Bras and Ligny DLCs installed via Steam, so I don't know if they install the patches automatically. Google is of limited help. It seems that the KS Mod isn't meant to enhance the built-in scenarios experience.

I do believe that this is a great game, especially amidst what wonders of battles you guys probably pull off on multiplayer, but I have quite some visions for the "next generation." I plan on doing research on language parsing and implementing some dynamic state machine where all orders are transmitted in ASCII or token-hashed English that allows you to rapidly tell your battalions or commanders more meaningful instructions such as "March 150 yards to the Northwest, staying to the left flank of X Battalion. Form a front with X Battalion when within 100 yards of the enemy." Semantic tokens (state nodes), parsing and the control or delegation responses are built up through the individual unit state machines built or updated via built-in or user facilitated "drills."

As for accessing the NSD website to read up on the "HITS guide," the last time I tried, it was either consistently down or redirected me to some trojan that set off my firewall and McAfee. Luckily, my computer was successfully protected.

Regards,
Dan
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Re: Greetings from Toronto

Post  Mr. Digby on Tue Sep 05, 2017 12:57 am

Hi Dan

Good to see you here and welcome to the forum. Toronto is on US east coast time so you're 5 hours behind GMT. We play MP games every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday at 19:00 BST which is 14:00 for you. We've tried numerous timeslots but the 5+ hour difference across the Atlantic means this kind of timeslot is the only one that is both Eu and US friendly.

You should definitely d/l and try out the KS Napoleon mod, we like to think its a fair improvement on the stock game.

Joining us in Teamspeak (you'll need a mic) for a game or just a chat session is the quickest way to know more about the game and its limitations and potential as well as how our mod changes things.

_________________
The other Martin - Charles Reille, le dernier Maréchal de France.

"Any hussar who has not got himself killed by the age of 30 is a jackass." - Antoine Charles Louis Lasalle, commander of Napoleon's light cavalry, killed in battle at Wagram 6 July 1809, aged 34.

"I had forgotten there was an objective." - Generallieutenant Mikhail Borozdin I
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Re: Greetings from Toronto

Post  risorgimento59 on Tue Sep 05, 2017 8:06 am

Your thread on TWC was an eye catching one definitely and the most interesting I read since a while.
Seems we ran fairly parallel paths on NTW.
So... nice to meet you and a big welcome.

risorgimento59

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Re: Greetings from Toronto

Post  Mr. Haelscheir on Wed Sep 06, 2017 3:26 am

Thank you all for the kind welcome,

Indeed, 'tis a matter to be at the other side of the Atlantic. Plus, my co-op work hours and commute leave me with only around four hours in the afternoon for research and leisure. Saturdays, I could definitely try, plus my DnD party is still on its hiatus. My Steam is set to always keep the game up to date, so I assume it must be at patch 1.02 from August 10. May I be directed towards some information on what exactly the KS Mod adds to the list of courier commands? Any words on just how smart the stock AI engine is? I am looking for some AI implementations or schemes to use as a reference.

I am going to keep trying out the Expanded Toolbar and hope that it doesn't crash. Also, how so does the mod not work with the stock battle scenarios? Plus the NSD site seems to be up now.

Regards,
Dan
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Re: Greetings from Toronto

Post  DarkRob on Wed Sep 06, 2017 7:48 am

The expanded grog toolbar was designed to be played through the user scenarios tab, not the Waterloo battles tab. If you try to use the grog toolbar and play through the Waterloo battles tab, many of the grog toolbars functions will not work at all, as well as make the game crash. As of patch 1.02 the latest grog toolbar(version 5.4) is included in the game and all 20 of the stock Waterloo battles are now included in the user scenarios tab. The DLC's(Ligny, Quatre Bras and Wavre) have always placed their respective scenarios in both the Waterloo battles tab as well as the user scenarios tab.  In short, just play all scenarios through the user scenarios tab and you wont have any problems

As far as the stock AI goes, well it suffers from the same problem every AI for any game has suffered since the beginning of AI in video games, you will outgrow it. There is no substitute for the human brain. It can learn, adapt, invent, and innovate better then any AI ever will. The stock AI for SOW will crush you on day one, probably all through week one, maybe even through month one. But over time, as you learn the game better, as you learn the AI's tactics better, as your human brain learns and adapts and you come up with tactics and strategies to beat the AI, you will inevitably leave the AI in the dust.

I started playing SOW Waterloo 2 years ago when the game first came out. Like most new players to the game I was beaten soundly by the AI when I first started. But over time, and through experience as well as trial and error, I gained more insight into the games mechanics as well as the AI's tactics and strategies. Through repetition my performances improved. All through this learning process where I was adapting, thinking, and trying to create new tactics and strategies, the AI stayed exactly as it was the day I first purchased the game. It fights exactly the same today as it did two years ago. It hasn't learned anything new about how to play against me. It simply knows what it was programmed to know. And at this point I know what it is going to do even before it does, because Ive seen, and defeated everything it can do a thousand times before. So while I would say the stock AI is impressive for what it can do, its no match for a human player with knowledge and experience, who is hell bent on beating it.

 There are things you can do to mitigate this. Playing on higher difficulties is one way. This doesn't actually make the AI any smarter, but it does give it better units to work with, higher strength, higher morale, better troop quality etc etc. Basically more of meatshield. Playing HITS is another way, but I don't recommend playing the stock scenarios from the saddle. No matter what Norbsoft might say, many of the stock scenarios were not designed to be played HITS, especially brigade scenarios where you, as the leader, are simply pinned in one position unable to move since you have to just sit there holding an objective. Its even worse if that objective is a fort(like say Papelotte, or the church in Plancenoit) and you're basically sitting there staring at a wall while occupying said objective.
It works better at higher levels of organization like corps and army, since you have other leaders to work with, but at those levels, its more like having the AI fight itself, since from the saddle you will have a much more limited influence on the battle. And quite frankly the major victory conditions for many scenarios are just not attainable if you let the AI do the bulk of the work. That's not to say the stock scenarios cant be fun. They can be, so long as you play them the way they want to be played.

If HITS is what you're after, and I can see from your first post that it is, then KS is really where its at. Their AI is far superior to the stock AI, and more importantly, it isn't static, as they are constantly working to ever further improve it. They don't concern themselves with points, or objectives, and so don't tie down leaders as objective holders. Artillery is better, cavalry is better, infantry is better. And if you play with them in multiplayer I would say its probably as close as is currently possible to get in experiencing Napoleonic command at its most realistic.

Now Im not always in the mood for that level of realism, I tend to look at SOW more as a video game then I do as a simulation. But if total immersion and realism of Napoleonic battlefield command as well as the most extreme fog of war is what you're after, then I would say there is nothing out there even approaching a KS multiplayer game with these guys. Ive only gotten to play with them once, but it was a totally different experience from the way I normally play. Even as someone who has been playing the game for years and has tons of experience playing it, I can tell you it took me way out of my comfort zone and I felt like a noob all over again. Its a merciless way to play and doesn't coddle the player in any way. Frankly I think they're all a bunch of sadists lol.

DarkRob

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Re: Greetings from Toronto

Post  Mr. Haelscheir on Thu Sep 07, 2017 1:28 am

@DarkRob

Thank you for the excellent insight and resolution to my Expanded Toolbar issue. And perhaps you meant "masochists," as in taking pleasure in the painful struggle and chaos of commanding men from your saddle and limited courier commands.

I am essentially trying to get some practice out of the historical scenarios. I've tried some short brigade versus brigade battles; running up and down the lines with an annoying WASD scheme, trying to keep your men in sight and maintain the front. What I am kind of working towards is an AI built upon semantic nodes that can be expanded and reorganized through "conversation" with the AI. Syntactic trees that work on a token by token basis, linked via various conditional state transitions with the end points being actions, movements or delegations. Building large scale behaviours out of military protocols defined at the unit, company and battalion level. A page of English protocols that when "read" to commander state machines would set up the decision trees of a dynamic, functional army. All a fantasy.

I have a few video courses to watch, yet. I am taking Natural Language Processing to be an important consideration to explore. I have a fair idea as to how this system might work, but I've ought to be able to back it with formal theory. I would be interested in implementing this first as an extensible framework using SOWWL as the simulation engine. I'll be looking into the SDK then.

Regards,
Dan
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Re: Greetings from Toronto

Post  Grog on Thu Sep 07, 2017 7:58 am

Just to clarify, fellas. At the Kriegsspiel group games we don't use the WASD HITS function. That would be too masochistic, even for us! Its too awkward using the 'F' function. Setting Command radius to 15 metres is what we use for MP games. I play it set at 13 M for my own SP games. In the Gettysberg game it is possible to play as low as 2 M because the GUI is different and the destination pointer can be seen better at lower levels. We did have to mod the Command radius in that game, though.
Hope I understood you correctly.

Mike
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Re: Greetings from Toronto

Post  Mr. Digby on Thu Sep 07, 2017 4:57 pm

Mike - the MP games use 10yards height.

To Rob and Dan - the KS Mod uses a different gold and red pointer to the green default one. Its much easier to see at low angles of incidence (HITS height) and you can easily tell which direction its facing.

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The other Martin - Charles Reille, le dernier Maréchal de France.

"Any hussar who has not got himself killed by the age of 30 is a jackass." - Antoine Charles Louis Lasalle, commander of Napoleon's light cavalry, killed in battle at Wagram 6 July 1809, aged 34.

"I had forgotten there was an objective." - Generallieutenant Mikhail Borozdin I
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Re: Greetings from Toronto

Post  Grog on Thu Sep 07, 2017 8:37 pm

Ah, 10 yards is it?!
Brutal. Bring it on!
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Re: Greetings from Toronto

Post  Mr. Digby on Thu Sep 07, 2017 10:02 pm

We could probably go lower but people have become comfortable at 10 now. When we played a GB game recently at 2 yards one person complained it was unplayable - then we pointed out this was the height we've always used with GB games. I think we compromised at 5 yards for GB.

_________________
The other Martin - Charles Reille, le dernier Maréchal de France.

"Any hussar who has not got himself killed by the age of 30 is a jackass." - Antoine Charles Louis Lasalle, commander of Napoleon's light cavalry, killed in battle at Wagram 6 July 1809, aged 34.

"I had forgotten there was an objective." - Generallieutenant Mikhail Borozdin I
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Re: Greetings from Toronto

Post  Mr. Haelscheir on Sat Sep 09, 2017 8:20 am

I managed to play the "Emperor's Plan" scenario again, this time doing a touch better with an Inconclusive Fight. The sprite ratio was at "1:1", HITS move at 10, camera distance at 2 and the target list and context menu disabled. I was only using the WASD keys for my commander.

Personally, I prefer to have my head approximately at the same height that my commander's head would be if I was perched upon a horse. In ways, this game has made me realize how important it is for commanders to be physically "elevated" upon their horse just so they can actually see and keep track of their battalions as well as have the mobility to get within reach of them. It forces me to be on the move and in search of proper vantage points to command my men and analyze the front. Some issues were just that of not being able to respond fast enough to the enemy retreating, leading to wasted time where my men are either not engaged or are continuously standing outside of range. And the occasional absurd path finding and refusal to advance that I strive to correct without TCing.

As for the KS Mod pointer, I haven't managed to see it in my current installation although it would definitely be very helpful. I think that with that pointer, provided that it also be more reliable, I should be quite able to position my men quite decently and with improved execution on my part. As for using that height at the division or corps level, I can imagine how difficult that could make things. You may have to deal solely with courier commands and rely on delegation to your brigade commanders provided they be smart enough. I would consider the use of any larger a HITS radius in order to better ascertain the military situation of your division as "cheating." I haven't really tried it yet, but I would expect those challenges and for authenticity strive to cope with them.

As far as modding and AI development goes, I am reading up on the SDK documentation. While browsing through the game files, I came across the start screen music files and realized that they had incorporated all four movements of Beethoven's 3rd Symphony "Eroica" into different areas. It turns out that Beethoven had composed the work in 1804 and had originally dedicated it to Napoleon, even at first naming the symphony, "Buonaparte", a dedication which he would later revoke out of anger once Napoleon became emperor (Wikipedia). I find the symphony to be quite a refreshing and symbolic soundtrack embodying the game and era.
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Re: Greetings from Toronto

Post  DarkRob on Sat Sep 09, 2017 9:24 am

As I mentioned earlier, many of the stock scenarios are difficult, if not impossible to win playing HITS. The problem with the stock scenarios is that the vast majority of them can not be won through combat alone. The point totals required to achieve a major victory for many of the scenarios are to high to ever achieve through just combat. The capture, proper occupation and holding of the scenario objectives are the most important thing in most of the stock scenarios. This is because the amount of points you can accrue from the objective far far outweigh any points you might win or lose though combat. Properly occupying an objective requires the correct amount of men and an officer(in brigade scenarios, that's you) to be within the radius of the objective to begin getting points from it. And once occupied you cannot move away from the objective. If you do, you wont get any points from it because you no longer occupy it. Hence the conflict with playing HITS. In HITS you need to be able to move your officer around to see whats going on. In brigade scenarios, you are the only officer, so once you capture and occupy the objective you must stay there and not move in order to keep getting points from it.

Larger size scenarios like division and corps scenarios somewhat solve the officer problem as you have more officers than just you that you can use to occupy objectives. However you're still having to tie down valuable brigade commanders to hold them once occupied. Also, by the very nature of HITS play, the higher you go in organization size, the more you have to delegate to the AI since your camera is always locked to you. And Il tell you right now, the stock AI is not aggressive enough on its own to win most of the scenarios. In many instances you must force the issue, and in large scenarios that can be hard to do when you're stuck locked to the saddle in HITS.

The stock scenarios are heavily scripted and structured for you to do certain things, in the correct order and almost all of them center around either attacking, capturing and then holding an objective, or just defending the objective you begin the scenario holding. The stock scenarios do not provide you the freedom from deviating from the prescribed goal of the scenarios, or the kind of freedom of maneuver that the KS mod does. Many of the scenarios are as little as 30 minutes long and you only have enough time to just barrel straight ahead for the objective. And like I said, for 99% of the scenarios, objectives are king.

Now that's not to say none of the scenarios can be won playing HITS. Ive won a number of them playing HITS, including the emperors plan. The Emperors plan is the easiest scenario in the game. Its an introductory scenario. Its primarily there to introduce the concept of splitting off skirmishers(which was something new to SOW at the time Waterloo was released) and how to use them. And really all you need is a few well placed skirmisher units to win the scenario. You don't even need to use your line battalions.

If you're interested in learning more about the stock game, as well the best the tactics and strategies to beat the stock scenarios, I suggest watching my youtube series. The series is aimed at helping beginners learn the game and so doesn't cover HITS(which as I said, doesn't work well with the stock scenarios anyway) but it may introduce you to things about the game, as well as its mechanics that you don't know yet. These videos only cover the stock game, and the only mod I use is the Grog toolbar(the stock toolbar being so bad I could never bring myself to use it) They also have nothing to do with the KS mod, which is such a massive overhaul of the stock game that I consider it to be an almost entirely different game.

The series is also a work in progress as there are 35 total scenarios in the game, and I only started doing this series a few months ago. The brigade series is done, and Im about three quarters though the division series. The corps and army scenarios will be forthcoming after that. Eventually, when Im done the series will cover the best ways to beat every scenario in the game.

Ive also just started a 4 part mini series on the Grog toolbar itself in order to explain all its capabilities. I only just started that so only the first part is done. The 4 parts will be infantry, artillery, cavalry, and Leaders and organizations.

Brigade series playlist:
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLFZdiSNAc51E-mIRLj5SRywNHeghO9XR5

Division series playlist(about three quarters complete):
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLFZdiSNAc51FaZWckYhO7PF62TjfkoQZ2

Grog toolbar miniseries playlist(Only just started this):
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLFZdiSNAc51F_Cf35-1tOYaLGXBt9GRHx

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Re: Greetings from Toronto

Post  Mr. Digby on Sat Sep 09, 2017 10:26 pm

Hi Rob

I understand you are being helpful but please limit the discussion on this forum to the KS Mod or ways to get SoW to function within the limits of Kriegspiel games where fog of war is the key factor. Any discussion of the stock game or videos and gameplay not using HITS should be done on the NSD or Matrix forums, or on Steam.

Many thanks.

_________________
The other Martin - Charles Reille, le dernier Maréchal de France.

"Any hussar who has not got himself killed by the age of 30 is a jackass." - Antoine Charles Louis Lasalle, commander of Napoleon's light cavalry, killed in battle at Wagram 6 July 1809, aged 34.

"I had forgotten there was an objective." - Generallieutenant Mikhail Borozdin I
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